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England at Euro 2024 - Who is in and out of Gareth Southgate's squad?

Sports Mole takes a look at the main contenders and the hopeful outsiders who made Gareth Southgate's final England squad for Euro 2024.

As gripping domestic seasons come to a close all across Europe, there is little time to rest for the continent's best, who have Euro 2024 glory to fight for in Germany from June 14 to July 14.

For Gareth Southgate's star-studded England squad, going one better is the ultimate aim after their Italy-inflicted heartbreak in the Euro 2020 showpiece match, where the Azzurri's penalty prowess propelled them to Wembley stardom.

Serbia, Denmark and Slovenia will be the group foes awaiting the Three Lions, who bested Bosnia-Herzegovina 3-0 in their first friendly of the month on June 3 but were subjected to a humiliating 1-0 loss to Iceland four days later.

Thirty-three players were originally called up by the Three Lions boss, but on June 6, seven men were axed from the ranks as England named their final 26-man selection for the Euros, with some expected absentees and some cuts drawing more raised eyebrows.

With that in mind, Sports Mole takes a look at the main players and outside contenders who earned a place in England's Euro 2024 squad, giving our verdict on which athletes did or did not do enough for a seat on the plane.


GOALKEEPERS

Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale pictured in September 2023© Reuters

With 13 clean sheets in the 2023-24 Premier League season - second only to Arsenal's David Raya - Jordan Pickford will no doubt enter another major tournament as England's number one, leaving two men to scrap it out for the right to act as his deputies.

Aaron Ramsdale - the man brutally demoted to second choice at the Emirates behind Raya - has been Pickford's lieutenant for the past couple of years, but his severely reduced minutes and mistakes when called upon gives Southgate an unnecessary selection headache.

However, Ramsdale was saved by a lack of other standout goalkeeping options, as Crystal Palace's Sam Johnstone is out with an elbow injury, and Burnley's James Trafford - called up in March and as part of the preliminary squad - lost his place in the Clarets side and was unsurprisingly out of the reckoning for the final 26, despite making the training squad.

Some eyes had been cast over to Scotland, where Jack Butland has excelled in between the sticks for Rangers with 25 clean sheets to seemingly put himself firmly in contention for an unforeseen recall, but the 31-year-old lost out to another ex-Manchester United man.

Thanks to Johnstone's injury, Dean Henderson has been an ever-present in Crystal Palace's incredible end to the 2023-24 campaign - keeping four clean sheets in his last seven Premier League games - and after missing Euro 2020 with a hip problem, the 27-year-old's time is nigh.

Our picks: Jordan Pickford, Aaron Ramsdale, Dean Henderson
Southgate's picks: Jordan Pickford, Aaron Ramsdale, Dean Henderson


DEFENDERS

Everton defender Jarrad Branthwaite on April 6, 2024© Reuters

There was a time not too long ago where Harry Maguire's England selections would spark uproar, as the £80m man struggled to reignite his Manchester United career, but he is now back in Erik ten Hag's good books and - crucially - never left Southgate's.

However, as Maguire failed to recover from a calf injury in time for the Euros, the ex-Leicester City man was dropped from the final squad, a decision which left the defender "absolutely gutted", but Manchester City duo Kyle Walker and John Stones are in, even if the latter has been frozen out by Pep Guardiola recently.

Brighton & Hove Albion captain Lewis Dunk will be on the plane as well - his knee injury has since cleared up - but Tyrone Mings's severe problem in the same area extinguished his chances of Euro 2024 selection.

Much-coveted Everton man Jarrad Branthwaite - already an Under-21 European champion - was ostensibly at the forefront of contenders to get the nod, especially after earning his senior debut in the 3-0 win over Bosnia-Herzegovina on June 3, but he was also controversially cut from the 26-man selection.

Liverpool's Joe Gomez in action with Luton Town's Issa Kabore on November 5, 2023© Reuters

Branthwaite's steadfast displays in the Toffees backline justified his preliminary selection over the likes of Fikayo Tomori - who had never been a Southgate favourite anyway - and Levi Colwill, although Marc Guehi and Champions League-bound Ezri Konsa will be on the flight to Germany.

A centre-back who also provides invaluable versatility, Joe Gomez has shone on the left for Liverpool in 2023-24 and warrants his ticket too, alongside Luke Shaw - a player who has not featured since February due to an injury-riddled campaign and was a "long shot" - but he is England's only natural left-back option with Ben Chilwell sidelined.

On form, there is arguably no better right-back pick for England than Arsenal's Ben White, but the 26-year-old asked to be left out of March's selections, only a few months after Southgate claimed that there were a few defenders ahead of him in the pecking order.

White's reluctance to represent his nation - which allegedly stemmed from a Steve Holland comment at the World Cup - has now gone as far as a Euros snub, meaning that Kieran Trippier's spot is safe.

Chelsea skipper Reece James, meanwhile, is a notable absentee, having failed to shake off his perennial injury problems and also ending his Premier League season on a sour note with a red card against Brighton & Hove Albion. Liverpool's Jarell Quansah - called up to the training camp - lost his spot too.

Our picks: Harry Maguire, John Stones, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, Joe Gomez, Jarrad Branthwaite, Luke Shaw, Ezri Konsa
Southgate's picks: John Stones, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, Joe Gomez, Luke Shaw, Ezri Konsa, Lewis Dunk, Marc Guehi



MIDFIELDERS

Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold pictured on January 28, 2024© Reuters

Liverpool fans questioning the omission of Trent Alexander-Arnold from the defensive troupe can breathe a little easier now, as the 25-year-old has been included as a midfielder in the preliminary squad, following the pattern of recent England selections thanks to his inverted prowess.

A definite pick for the engine room - where he has earned most of his England minutes over the past 12 months and shone against Bosnia - Alexander-Arnold will be joined in the midfield ranks by Arsenal's Declan Rice and Borussia Dortmund's Jude Bellingham, two of the first names on Southgate's list.

Rice's partnership with Kalvin Phillips was a cornerstone of England's run to the Euro 2020 final, but three years down the line, the latter is out of favour at Manchester City, and his loan spell at West Ham United was the true definition of a disaster.

Having failed to return to form since being cut from the England squad and also struggling with a calf problem, Phillips has had to give up his Euro 2024 dream, which spells optimism for Chelsea's stand-in skipper Conor Gallagher.

Crystal Palace's Adam Wharton on February 3, 2024© Reuters

The 24-year-old has been a regular for the Three Lions in recent times anyway and unsurprisingly earned his selection thanks to Phillips's plight, but this is where things start to get particularly tricky.

Southgate's loyalty to Jordan Henderson throughout the short-lived Saudi Arabia saga was unwavering, but it ultimately became too difficult for the England boss to stick with a man who has often been booed by his own fans since leaving Liverpool.

The emergence of Kobbie Mainoo and Adam Wharton at Manchester United and Crystal Palace respectively gave Southgate even more food for thought, and the Three Lions do not have many standout players of the either's profile, with Wharton's exemplary displays in Palace's end-of-season surge being particularly difficult to ignore.

Both players were included in Southgate's final squad - a mark of their meteoric rises through their respective breakthrough campaigns - but there was no space in the final 26 for Liverpool's Curtis Jones.

James Maddison's drop-off in form in the second half of the campaign also dashed his hopes of making the final squad, but for Cole Palmer - the player with the most combined goals and assists in the 2023-24 Premier League season - a hotel key awaits.

Our picks: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jude Bellingham, Conor Gallagher, Declan Rice, Adam Wharton, Kobbie Mainoo, Cole Palmer
Southgate's picks: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jude Bellingham, Conor Gallagher, Declan Rice, Adam Wharton, Kobbie Mainoo, Cole Palmer


ATTACKERS

Bournemouth striker Dominic Solanke pictured on December 23, 2023© Reuters

Neither Harry Kane nor Bukayo Saka were involved in their team's final fixtures of the 2023-24 campaign, but there was nothing to suggest that two of England's finest offensive players were in danger of missing this summer's Championships, even if the latter's spot on the right comes under some threat from Palmer and others.

With 19 goals and an unrivalled 13 Premier League assists in 2023-24, Aston Villa frontman Ollie Watkins will be one of Kane's backup centre-forwards in Germany, but selecting another reserve number nine was not so straightforward.

Bournemouth talisman Dominic Solanke spent the Premier League season banging furiously on Southgate's door thanks to his 19-goal haul but did not even make the 33-man preliminary selection.

Instead, Ivan Toney's four goals in 17 games since his betting ban ran its course, coupled with a goal against Belgium on his return to international action in March, proved enough to hold off Solanke, as well as fellow capped strikers Eddie Nketiah and Callum Wilson.

Newcastle United's Anthony Gordon acknowledges fans after the match on March 2, 2024© Reuters

In addition to the effervescent Saka on the wings, the Premier League's Player of the Season Phil Foden is a simple selection, and Jarrod Bowen is also in the mix on account of his 16-goal Premier League season.

On the opposite flank, Anthony Gordon may have missed the final Premier League gameweek through injury, but his affliction is not thought to be serious, and with 11 goals and 10 assists in the top-flight campaign, he is a worthy choice.

Gordon's gain is Jack Grealish's loss, as the Man City winger has been relegated to a bit-part role at the Etihad and has struggled to stay fully fit as well, so there were certainly better options than the £100m attacker, who has indeed been omitted from the 26.

One of those is 11-goal Crystal Palace attacker Eberechi Eze, who out-performed Marcus Rashford on both goals and assists this season, ultimately earning selection ahead of the vastly more experienced Manchester United man.

Having sparkled in the Bosnia friendly, Eze survived the June 6 cull and is one of four Crystal Palace players heading to the Euros, making the Eagles the most well-represented club in England's troupe.

Our picks: Phil Foden, Anthony Gordon, Harry Kane, Bukayo Saka, Ollie Watkins, Jarrod Bowen, Eberechi Eze, Ivan Toney
Southgate's picks: Phil Foden, Anthony Gordon, Harry Kane, Bukayo Saka, Ollie Watkins, Jarrod Bowen, Eberechi Eze, Ivan Toney


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